Nate Chinen

Director of Editorial Content

Nate Chinen joined WBGO as the Director of Editorial Content at the start of 2017. In addition to overseeing a range of coverage at WBGO.org, he works closely with programs including Jazz Night in America and The Checkout, and contributes to a range of jazz programming on NPR.

Before joining the WBGO team. Chinen spent nearly a dozen years as a jazz and pop critic for the New York Times. He also wrote a long-running monthly column and assorted features for JazzTimes. He is a ten-time winner of the Helen Dance-Robert Palmer Award for Excellence in Writing, presented by the Jazz Journalists Association. The same organization presented him with its award for Best Book About Jazz, for his work on Myself Among Others, the autobiography of impresario George Wein.

Chinen was born in Honolulu, to a musical family: his parents were popular nightclub entertainers, and he grew up around the local Musicians Union. He went to college on the east coast and began writing about jazz in 1996, at the Philadelphia City Paper. His byline has also appeared in a range of national music publications, including DownBeat, Blender and Vibe. For several years he was the jazz critic for Weekend America, a radio program syndicated by American Public Media. And from 2003 to 2005 he covered jazz for the Village Voice.

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Terence Blanchard wrote his first piece of music for a Spike Lee joint nearly 30 years ago.

 

The movie was Mo' Better Blues, which revolves around a brooding jazz trumpeter played by Denzel Washington. Blanchard was on set to ghost those trumpet parts, but at one point, Spike heard him playing a theme at the piano, and asked him to write an accompanying string arrangement.

 

Henry Adebonojo

Terence Blanchard wrote his first piece of music for a Spike Lee joint nearly 30 years ago.

The movie was Mo' Better Blues, which revolves around a brooding jazz trumpeter played by Denzel Washington. Blanchard was on set to ghost those trumpet parts, but at one point, Spike heard him playing a theme at the piano, and asked him to write an accompanying string arrangement.

Terence Blanchard wrote his first piece of music for a Spike Lee joint nearly 30 years ago. The movie was Mo' Better Blues, which revolves around a brooding jazz trumpeter played by Denzel Washington. Blanchard was on set to ghost those trumpet parts, but at one point, Spike heard him playing a theme at the piano, and asked him to write an accompanying string arrangement.

Eric Ryan Anderson

Take Five looks to the earth and the sky, and covers a galactic range of style.

Randy Shropshire / Getty Images for The Recording Academy

Wayne Shorter, John Daversa, Cécile McLorin Salvant and Buddy Guy are among the jazz and blues winners at the 61st Annual Grammy Awards.

They received their honors during the Premiere Ceremony at Microsoft Theater in Los Angeles on Sunday, in a ceremony streamed online, before the network broadcast on CBS.

Note: NPR's First Listen audio comes down after the album is released. However, you can still listen with the Spotify and Apple Music playlists at the bottom of the page.

The 61st Annual Grammy Awards are this Sunday, Feb. 10. 

And ever since the nominees were announced a couple of months ago, there has been talk of upsets and other surprises — especially in the Album of the Year category, which has expanded from five to eight artists, making predictions that much more of a sucker's game.  

American jazz vocalist Betty Carter performs in New York for The Music Never Stops in 1992.
JACK VARTOOGIAN / DL MEDIA, INC.

Betty Carter, the adroit and unsurpassable jazz singer, was 61 when she took the stage at Aaron Davis Hall in New York for The Music Never Stops on March 29, 1992. 

Betty Carter, the adroit and unsurpassable jazz singer, was 61 when she took the stage at Aaron Davis Hall in New York for The Music Never Stops on March 29, 1992. Presented by Jazz at Lincoln Center, a newly formed organization at the time, it was a concert of grand, unabashed ambition, celebrating Carter's magnificent prowess in the context of a specially assembled big band with strings, as well as three all-star rhythm sections.

Courtesy of the artist

 

There are probably better uses for a time machine — but if you could drop in on the band room at Philadelphia's High School for Creative and Performing Arts, sometime in the late 1980s, you'd encounter some historic jazz talent in the making.

 

I'm referring in particular to the untouchable organ virtuoso Joey DeFrancesco and the irreproachable bassist Christian McBride.

There are probably better uses for a time machine — but if you could drop in on the band room at Philadelphia's High School for Creative and Performing Arts, sometime in the late 1980s, you'd encounter some historic jazz talent in the making. I'm referring in particular to the untouchable organ virtuoso Joey DeFrancesco and the irreproachable bassist Christian McBride.

Briene Lermitte

Maria Schneider’s acclaimed classical composition Winter Morning Walks began with a scrap of poetry, which reached her ears before she encountered it on the page.

Michael Woodall

Joey DeFrancesco has spent the last 30 years as a reigning Hammond B-3 organ hero, building on the rich tradition we know as soul jazz. What that means in practical terms is variable: DeFrancesco has led trios and larger combos; worked with his heroes, including Jimmy Smith; and even collaborated with Van Morrison.

OKeh Records / Sony Music Masterworks

When we last heard from saxophonist Branford Marsalis, he was touring behind Upward Spiral, a 2016 collaboration with Kurt Elling. That album featured Elling’s vocals out front, with Marsalis and his quartet playing a strong backing role.

The band — a longtime unit with Joey Calderazzo on piano, Eric Revis on bass and Justin Faulkner on drums — is poised to reclaim the center spotlight with a new studio album, The Secret Between the Shadow and the Soul. Due out March 1 on OKeh Records, it will the first Branford Marsalis Quartet release in nearly seven years, since the rather less loftily titled Four MFs Playin’ Tunes.

Jonathan Chimene / WBGO

This week’s Take Five is a supersize preview, featuring picks for Friday and Saturday nights. 

Art Kane / Art Kane Archives

No one needs to be reminded that 1959 was an exceptionally good year for jazz. 

Peter Leng Xiong

New Year, New Music: The Winter Jazzfest kicks off this Friday, and Take Five has your Week One field guide.

Courtesy of The Roy Hargrove Estate

This time each year, amidst the warmth of year-end highlights and holiday wishes, we pause to remember those we have lost.

But while it's an occasion for sadness, it's also an opportunity to celebrate their legacies in full. That's the spirit with which Jazz Night in America offers this In Memoriam episode, featuring testimonials by some of those who knew the artists best.

This time each year, amidst the warmth of year-end highlights and holiday wishes, we pause to remember those we have lost. But while it's an occasion for sadness, it's also an opportunity to celebrate their legacies in full. That's the spirit with which Jazz Night in America offers this In Memoriam episode, featuring testimonials by some of those who knew the artists best.

To the extent that there's a runaway Jazz Album of 2018 — factoring in critical reception, commercial success and cultural relevance — it comes to us from a saxophonist who died more than 50 years ago. I'm referring to John Coltrane, who probably wasn't thinking in terms of an album when he brought his quartet into the studio for a routine workout on March 6, 1963.

Chris Tobin / WBGO

Pianists Fred Hersch and Brad Mehldau, saxophonists Tia Fuller and Miguel Zenón, and vocalists Gregory Porter and Cécile McLorin Salvant are among the nominees for the 61st Grammy Awards.

Dorothy Darr

"I've been drunk with music all my life," Charles Lloyd muses, "and it's been my spiritual path. And the times that I was knocked off my mooring, I just found a way to get back up."

"I've been drunk with music all my life," Charles Lloyd muses, "and it's been my spiritual path. And the times that I was knocked off my mooring, I just found a way to get back up."

Steve Mundinger / Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz

Tom Oren, a 24-year-old pianist from Tel Aviv, Israel, has won the 2018 Thelonious Monk International Jazz Competition.

He was awarded first prize at a gala concert on Monday night, at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C. Along with his prestigious honor, Oren will receive $25,000 in scholarship funds and a recording contract with the Concord Music Group.

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